According to a new study led by M. Zenger of the Department of Medical Psychology and Medical Sociology at the University of Leipzig in Germany, people with higher levels of self-efficacy have better employment opportunities and longer employment histories than those with low levels of self-efficacy. Research has shown that self-efficacy helps people overcome stressful and challenging life events, such as unemployment. When someone has depleted emotional resources, their self-efficacy, or the ability to cope adaptively with situations, is weakened. This can lead to negative physical health outcomes and even increase the risk for psychological problems including depression and anxiety. But until now, no study has looked at whether or not self-efficacy affects unemployment duration and, if so, how.
Zenger assessed a sample of participants who had been unemployed seven years before the study period. The participants were evaluated for physical and mental health, self-efficacy, and employment status. Age and gender were also considered as factors in this research. Zenger found that the individuals with the highest levels of self-efficacy at baseline had the lowest levels of unemployment seven years later. The results also revealed that the older men had higher levels of self-efficacy than women or younger men. Additionally, those with high levels of self-efficacy had fewer health-related complaints. This finding suggests that self-efficacy may help protect people from physical ailments and psychological impairments that could decrease their willingness or ability to actively pursue or maintain employment.
When Zenger analyzed the data more closely, the results showed that people with very low levels of self-efficacy had twice the length of unemployment compared to those with robust self-efficacy. This reduction in resources could not only lead to further negative psychological issues, but also perpetuate unemployment and financial stress, which may in turn add to the overall psychological burden. Zenger believes that interventions designed to improve self-efficacy could have long-term benefits for people looking to secure employment and further protect them from future periods of unemployment. “To enhance or at least to stabilize the level of self-efficacy among the unemployed would prevent further deterioration and could lead to a more stable job search intention and job search behavior,” said Zenger.
Zenger, Markus, Hendrik Berth, Elmar Brahler, and Yve Stöbel-Richter. (2013). Health complaints and unemployment: The role of self-efficacy in a prospective cohort study. Journal of Social & Clinical Psychology 32.1: 97-115. Print.
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